Cloth Diapers

It is Sunday again so that means that it is laundry day. Doing laundry on the weekends is not novel to most families. It is a time for many mothers to catch up and do load after load after load in between the other tasks of grocery shopping, cleaning, and spending time together as a family. In between my loads of work clothes, toddler clothes, and casual clothes, though, I have another type of laundry going on.

Cloth diapers

Diaper laundry. A lot of people are surprised when they find out I cloth diaper. Some older people, somewhat familiar with the idea from generations past, ask if I have a diaper service. Hm. We can hardly get delivery pizza out in Gilbert, SC let alone diaper pick up and drop off.

I decided to cloth diaper my son when I was pregnant. It took a lot of convincing on the part of my husband to get him on board. Why would we do something so gross when disposable diapers are readily available? How could we dare wash bodily fluids in the same washing machine as our clothes? Are we really going to invest $300 in a stash of cloth diapers when we could just put some diapers on our registry and go from there?

Cloth diapers

So why was I so insistent on cloth diapering? First – it isn’t that crazy of a thing. Many of our parents and certainly our grandparents did it. Second – cloth diapers have come a long way. They aren’t the “plastic pants” of generations past.

Over the span of 2.5 years of diapering, these diapers are estimated to save us $1800-$2200 with an initial investment of only a few hundred dollars. They can be reused for subsequent children as well.

They are better for the environment. It has been estimated that it takes 250 years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

They are adorable.

Some people try to mention that I’m wasting water by rinsing and then washing the diapers. All they have to do is look into how much water is used in the making of disposables.

About washing them in my washing machine – if any parent thinks they’ll never be washing vomit or poop clothes in their washing machine at home they are sadly mistaken! And while we’re talking about poop clothes – in 16 months all of our “blow out” diapers have been disposable we’ve been using while traveling. We love how dependable our cloth diapers are.

cloth diapers

Having this cloth diaper chore probably adds 45 minutes to my week of “stuff to do.” The rewards are worth it, though. I feel good about doing another thing to help the environment, I’m never rushing to the store because we’re out of diapers, I’m not spending any money on diapers, and I can do less laundry on days where we let the diaper be our “pants” because they are so cute!

cloth diapers

If you are interested in cloth diapers, don’t be intimidated. They are easier than one would think! Here are some resources:

http://theartofsimple.net/cloth-diapering/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64os5I4_Z9Q

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

By: Leah Prescott

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Even though I have always liked my hair long, sometimes it’s just time for a change. There’s nothing like a nice short cut when late summer days are still hot and humid! Sometimes I am nervous about a change like this, but donating the length of my hair always motivates me to try a new style. This was my third time donating hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and I always feel great about the experience so I wanted to share it here.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Pantene Beautiful Lengths uses donations to create wigs for cancer patients. Cancer takes so much from its victims, and I just love knowing my hair will help someone going through a difficult time! Beautiful Lengths requirements are simple: Hair must be a minimum of eight inches in length, have no dyes or chemical treatments and contain less than 5% grey. Check out the details here: http://pantene.com/en-us/experience-main-section2/beautiful-lengths

It takes eight to fifteen donations to make just one wig, so donating hair is very important! Why not consider donating your next chop to a great cause? If you aren’t able to donate hair, Pantene also accepts monetary contributions to finance their cause.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

What do you think of my new cut? I’m working up the nerve to go even shorter next time!

Your Calling Doesn’t Have to be Grand (WHEW!)

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

higher purpose

If I’ve heard it once since recovering from my brain aneurysm, I’ve heard it 100 times and 100 different ways: “God isn’t done with you yet.” No one meant any harm, but it really put the pressure on me.

During rehab, someone innocently said, “You need to find out what God’s purpose is for you and work on fulfilling it.”

 

My reply? “Yep, you’re right. But right now I’m focusing on leaning how to walk again.”

As I continue to ponder my purpose, I was touched by Dr. Lissa Rankin‘s article recently featured by Positively Positive, which asserts the following:

  1. Every revolutionary act of love, even the smallest, most private action, raises the vibration of the planet and changes the world.
  2. Every time you let love lead, you are smack dab in the center of your purpose. It can be that simple.
  3. Sometimes one hug is all it takes to make a real difference.
  4. Anyone can find and fulfill his or her calling simply by doing whatever it is that you do with great love, from the heart, infused with meaning and kindness.
  5. It’s okay to let go of the “not enough” thoughts or the pressure to be grand.

I love that Rankin ended the article by encouraging us to use the Prayer of St Francis as we seek to be vessels of love in our own unique ways. I have since printed it out and used it as a morning prayer.

Stepping Things Up

By: Chaunte McClure

I’m on the up side of my on-again-off again relationship with being active. Why is it so difficult to create a good habit? I want to work out. I want to be physically fit. I want a flat stomach, toned arms and thighs and a healthy heart, but why, oh why, do I not want a beautiful physique enough to work for it? There is room for improvement and it won’t happen unless I do something about it.

I started a workout routine last week and I feel pretty good about it. I’m one week into it and hopefully this time there’s no turning back. If for some reason I fail at staying committed, I did get a good sermon illustration out of my efforts. Thanks, God.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 2.03.05 PMThe on-again relationship started two Sundays ago when my husband and I hit the trail at Riverfront Park. I’m not sure how many miles we walked, but by Tuesday I could feel the wrath of that walk in the park. My muscles were sore! Instead of letting the soreness in my legs subside, I decided to keep working those babies. About an hour before dark, I made my way to the Statehouse to step things up a bit. I did laps around the iconic structure and jogged up and down the Statehouse steps twice. Twice? Yes, twice. I know you’re probably thinking, that’s nothing. Well, let me remind you that there are 52 steps that lead up to the door of our capitol building. At least I think it’s 52. Seems like each time I counted during my Saturday visit, I came up with a different number while making my way up or down. I guess that’s what happens when you’re tired – you can’t even think straight. And when you’re out of shape, 10 steps will have you panting.

I do feel better about myself after my moderate work outs, but is that enough to make me stop flirting with exercise and finally commit to it? It seems like there’s always something that hinders me from maintaining a routine and excuses are high on the list. Let me see how many excuses I can come up with.

  1. I don’t have time.
  2. I have too much homework to do.
  3. It’s too hot outside.
  4. By the time I get home from work, I’m too tired.
  5. I’m not a morning person, so I can’t work out before going to the office.
  6. I have too much going on right now. (However, in my last blog I told you I learned to just say no.)
  7. And any other excuse I can come up with on given day.

I need you to cheer me on and be my accountability partners. Do you have a routine that works? How do you stay committed to being physically fit? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, I have a work out to complete. I’ll be back here at the end of August.

Did You Know…

By: Katie Austin

How many of you have a smart phone? How confident are you that the information on your phone is secure from spying eyes?

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 8.01.29 AM

How many of you are aware of the new USA Freedom Act? Did you know that it impacts how the government collects cell phone data?

Knowledge is power. I will share with you what I have learned and what you can do to protect the data on your cell phone.

Out with the old (USA Patriot Act), in with the new (USA Freedom Act).

Here’s a YouTube video that explains the Patriot Act and the newly created Freedom Act with a little bit of humor.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7V392FqqPE

The USA Patriot Act was signed into law just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks.  Congress quickly and almost unanimously approved the Patriot Act with the goal of protecting American lives, with a priority of security over privacy.  As summarized by  Caitlin Pierce, the Patriot Act “significantly expanded the government’s surveillance reach, broadening its authority to collect personal records, tap phones, monitor internet activity, and spy on religious and political organizations, often without any evidence of wrongdoing.”  The USA Freedom Act was enacted into law on June 2, 2015 with the intent to place restrictions and oversight on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance powers.

So how does this change impact the government’s ability to collect cell phone data?

After a six-month transition period, the USA Freedom Act will shift the burden of keeping phone records to the phone companies.  The NSA will be required to get permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get targeted information from a phone company storing the records.  The phone metadata is what will be retrieved and contains basic phone number information, not the content of the calls or names of callers.

What can we do to protect our information?

Cell phones these days are mini-computers that are used to send email, browse the internet and just about everything a desktop computer can do.  With everything at our finger tips and readily available, we need to take measures to ensure our phone is secure and the information stored on it is protected.

Here are a few steps I found that you can take to make it harder to get your personal information while you Candy Crush:

1.     Put your phone into airplane mode while playing games.  Most games don’t need the Internet connection to run, but their ad networks do.

2.     Don’t post on social media accounts while connected to cellular data networks.  Wait until you’re connected to your secure, password-protected home or workplace Wi-Fi network.  Better yet, wait until you get to your desktop computer or laptop.

3.     Turn off Wi-Fi, GPS and geolocation on your phone.  These can be used quickly to pinpoint your location.  Don’t use them until you absolutely need them.  You may have to go into each application’s settings to turn off geolocation so start with those that are capable of taking photos.

4.     Install an application called AppNotifier.  It will email you when an application is downloaded and installed on your computer.  Your best defense is being aware of what is on your phone. I love this app as I know when something is installed or updated on my phone!

Find out more by visiting the FCC Smartphone Checker at the link below.  There you will learn smartphone-specific ways to protect your phone.

https://www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security

We all have a choice.  I choose privacy over convenience.  It’s our information and we should be able to choose when and how to share it.

How Making a Bed Changed My Summer

By: Leah Prescott 

Do you make your bed every day? It’s a habit I never really picked up. It just never seemed important to me. Anyway, I would always pull the covers down again, so what was the point? In my quest for household peace and simplicity, I have added some new habits to my daily routine, and making my bed is one of them. I have been surprised by the results.

Organization tips

It takes only about a minute to make the bed, but it can change your mindset and set the tone for your day. I have realized that making my bed becomes the signal to me that rest is over and work has begun. It’s nice to walk through the bedroom and have it finished. It’s nice to have a smooth surface to lay a basket of laundry on. It’s nice that if we have to call a plumber or HVAC technician at the last minute, I won’t have to be embarrassed by the state of my bedroom (not that that has ever happened to me….) It’s nice to see the pattern of the bedspread I chose with care, rather than have it kicked and twisted at the foot of the bed or find my beagle trying to nuzzle her way under the covers. She does that every chance she gets.

As I add habits of household harmony, I’m finding it creates a snowball effect. When I leave a room, I’m naturally looking around for an item or two to return to its place as I go. When the closet is neat, hanging up a jacket isn’t difficult. If my bed is made, I am less likely to fling my purse on it or pile it with books. When I am able to enjoy the cleanliness daily, I am motivated to keep it up. Here are a few more simple habits that are working for me this summer:

Leaving the house neat. This has been a bit of a battle but I knew the time to start was over the summertime when our schedule is relaxed. It does take me quite a bit of effort and the kids have to be involved in this. But walking into a neat house on return is totally worth it. If we walk into a neat space, it’s so much easier to deal with the chaos of a barking dog, groceries to put away, hungry kids, and approaching naptime.

Dishwashing on a schedule. This is a tip I got years ago and it has worked great for me. Every evening after dinner, I start the dishwasher without fail. If it isn’t quite full, I seek out items to fill it (a great excuse to clean out the fridge, collect water bottles from the car, or run the bath toys through the dishwasher). Every morning, I unload the dishwasher while I am waiting for my coffee. This makes it easy to load throughout the day and the kids can put their plates directly in after meal time. Simple, but it really helps me keep up with the dishes.

Organization tips

Make clean-up a no-brainer. I have realized I have to eliminate any excuses to clean, no matter how weak they may be. This means having cleaning products easy to access wherever they are needed: in the kitchen and under each bathroom sink. I thought since my house was tiny, I could keep all the products in one place, but having them at arm’s reach makes a difference. I’ve also discovered a new product I really love: Windex Touch Up. You just dab a rag on the top and it dispenses a bit of cleaner right where you need it. This is great for quickly wiping down the counters and mirrors in between deep cleanings.

Multi-tasking. When waiting in the car, I pick up clutter. While my son is bathing, I clean the bathroom. While making meal plans and grocery lists, I take an extra moment to quickly wipe down the fridge. While chatting on the phone, I start a load of laundry. I know that many of you will think these are obvious, or maybe you do them by second nature. For me, these have to be very deliberately added to my lifestyle since order doesn’t really come naturally to me.

Organization tips

Create spots of beauty. I read this on a blog somewhere and it really resonated with me. In the chaos of parenting, my home “décor” (if you can even call it that) has not really changed. While we don’t have the time or resources to do some of the major projects on my wish list, these quick face-lifts are totally doable. The idea is to focus on a clutter-magnet area and give it a mini makeover. An example is my bedside table. Hanging a homemade wreath, cleaning out the drawer, and finding the perfect basket has motivated me to keep it neat. Buying new velvet hangers and organizing my closet by color has made it so much prettier and I have easily kept it neat. Sometimes the little things can make a big difference.

Organization tips

These habits have made my summer far more productive and have given me a sense of accomplishment. Progress is progress, after all! Have you found any easy ways of improving your productivity? I would love to hear about them!

Make a Note to Yourself

By: Shannon Elizabeth Boatwright

“Note to self:

None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like a hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”

Beach Bride copycrop

I came across this fabulous “Note to self” on Facebook. I seem to come across inspiring, mind blowing quotes sometimes on a daily basis and have a collection of them as screenshots on my phone. A lot of them I share; some of them I keep for myself.

This one above is one I definitely shared. It’s actually one I’d like to add to and enhance with more positive notes about being your self and living for yourself. Along with walking in the sunshine and jumping in the ocean, I would add to dance, sing and be joyful and full of thanks every moment you can. I could seriously base an entire inspirational speech on this simple note to self!

The harsh truth is there – indeed, none of us are getting out of here alive and when you really stop to think about it, there is NO time for anything else, accept to live our lives to the fullest. And in order to do that, we absolutely must stop thinking of ourselves as an after thought. You know we’re all guilty of it to varying degrees. It’s our harsh reality in this day and age. In today’s society it’s a constant battle of ‘keeping up with the Jones’, working to live, yet forgetting to truly LIVE. We spend a majority of our time working to pay the bills, not spending quality time with our families and friends, not spending time on ourselves, but working to survive in this world and keep our heads above water.

It’s sad to think we have to be reminded to actually live our lives instead of just survive them. But we all get wrapped up and overwhelmed with our To-Do Lists and the requirements of making it in this world. Like I’ve heard mentioned before, I don’t know of anyone on their death bed that said, “Gosh, I wish I had worked more and spent less time having fun.” So, let’s all write a note to ourselves! Make it real, make it personal and tell yourself to live it up, make the most of this short life we’ve been granted to live. Don’t just simply survive, actually live your precious life! Make a list of all the things, activities, people and places that make you happy and go live it! Make it happen!

Oh, I can dish out this positive, inspirational stuff left and right, but YES I need these daily, priceless reminders to actually act on it! Easier said than done, they say. So maybe if we keep up these reminders and notes to self, we can actually engage in making our lives truly meaningful and full of happiness!

There’s no time like right now to create great things in your life. So go write that note to yourself! Read it, Believe it, Live it!